|Sunday, 6 February 2005|
Entrepreneurs call for construction plans from TAFREN
by Lionel Yodhasinghe
Give us clear plans, correct estimates with concrete guidelines of identified projects to be done, we will do the job without delay, private sector entrepreneurs including those with trade partnerships with big foreign firms have told the top officials of Task Force for Rebuilding the Nation (TAFREN).
"We are anxious to see the government's clear and comprehensive plans on which we want to invest in the proposed nation building effort in the tsunami hit areas, but there is no such constructive work being mobilised and coordinated as yet for us to go ahead", they said in unison.
They said that they were ready to take on different projects immediately and later for local and foreign partners to follow suit. "But we want our money being used on correct jobs and such projects being realised passing on the benefit to the target groups, members of the European Chamber of Commerce of Sri Lanka (ECCSL) said during a panel discussion on the role of the private sector in the post-tsunami reconstruction and rehabilitation effort held at the Taj Samudra in Colombo recently.
The participating entrepreneurs also asked the Government to allow them import all goods required under this scheme duty free similar to that of the procedure followed for tsunami relief goods. Dr. Nihal Jinasena representing TAFREN said that he would take up the issue with TAFREN Chairman Mano Tittawella to find immediate solutions to ECCSL members.
Dr. Jinasena who has been assigned to handle the fishing and power sectors said that TAFREN would be given legal teeth soon to enable it to act on its own and expedite work by avoiding unnecessary delay due to State tender procedures and other bureaucratic procedures that are time consuming.
He also said that TAFREN was mainly doing a match making job and it would strive to bring more donors and working parties together rather than involving physically in construction activities. "This is a huge area of activities and TAFREN has no time to directly handle projects alone. We will match parties for every project allowing the donors and the constructors to negotiate, implement and complete projects as soon as possible instead", Dr. Jinasena said.
He said TAFREN would never take up handling donors' money or procurement process as such activities would increase responsibilities beyond the capacity of TAFREN as its work to be done is enormous.
Answering queries by participants Dr. Jinasena said that the TAFREN would undertake to facilitate the two parties in respect of legal matters, licence and permits and cutting down official constraints such as Customs clearing. TAFREN assures to clear all red tape as these are not commercial ventures.
However, TAFREN would not leave the benefactors alone when it marries the two parties on proposed projects. It would constantly monitor the activities of the projects, provide after services and report to the particular donors, Dr. Jinasena said.
He said that TAFREN also welcomes big investors who are ready to undertake huge projects under 'Build Operation and Transfer' (BOT) or 'Build Operation and Own' (BOO) schemes in the country.
Among them are proposed express railway line between Colombo and Tissamaharama, Hambantota Port, Highways between Colombo and Galle and Ampara and Trincomalee.
Meanwhile, TAFREN expects to launch its official web site to publicise its activities and needs of reconstruction and rehabilitation effort. This would better communicate between TAFREN and the prospective benefactors to make the reconstruction effort a success within the given time for three years.
Ms. Rachel Perera of TAFREN, ECCSL President Koenraad Pringiers and General Manager Sujeevan Perera participated.
Produced by Lake House